weekend 4/5/6 March 2011

A three day weekend as I wasn’t in our office on Friday, but instead left the house at 8 to get to a local hotel in order to start interviewing three candidates for deputy head at the school where I’m a governor. I can’t really say much about it, but it was a long and intense day, and I’m sure we made the right decision.

I was nearly late, though – I had a nicely worked out timetable for the early morning, which was slightly thrown by the arrival of the dishwasher at 7.30.I was in the bath, and Pete was still in bed and hadn’t heard the door, but we managed to get it indoors and I made it to the Pearson Park Hotel in time all the same!

On Saturday morning, the kitchen fitted arrived to do the final measuring before he makes the cabinets, so we feel things are moving on well there. Then we called into Merlin on Sculcoates Lane to look at beech and oak worktops, to decide which we might prefer, then we set off for Lincoln.

Lincoln involved sossidge innabun from the German stall on the continental market, good coffee and a cinnamon toasted teacake in Pimento, a hike down Steep Hill (which is), with a visit to The Bag Shop, where a handbag called to me so loudly I had to buy it. It’s an Owen Barry Tucket in grassy green, and just lovely.

Continued into town for a mooch, long walk along the river bank and bank, called into the Oxfam bookshop for a couple of books, had a cup of tea in a pub called the Witch and the Wardrobe (what? no lion?), then an early supper in the Laughing Buddha in Silver Street – all-you-can-eat Chinese, and cracking value at 8 quid each before 6 p.m.

Then we toiled back up Steep Hill (it really is) to head for the Drill Hall, where Mark Steel was gigging. The ticket receipt had no street name or postcode on it, but Google Maps showed us where it was. Except when we got there, the Drill Hall wasn’t. We asked a passer-by, who told us that it was down in town. Just along Silver Street in fact (aargh). My knees are bad at the moment, and thankfully I had a walking stick with me for the first time in months, so we set off once again down Steep Hill (it really is) and back to just pretty much exactly where we’d started out on Silver Street. I was in bits by this stage, and sitting still for what was an excellent gig, but still over 2.5 hours, didn’t help.

We decided to get a cab back to the car (you can guess where it was, can’t you?), but there was none to be had, so back up Steep Hill (did I mention .?) we climbed, into the car and home for about 12.30. I took a couple of ibuprofen and slept like a dead creature.

Today has been slumpage – apart from Pete chopping up more wood for the fire, and me nipping (or popping) up to the shop for some bits, we’ve done bugger all. Watched, and loved, Crazy Heart, caught up with online stuff, going to have an early night and possibly another soak in the bath before bed.

weekend 26/27 Feb 2011

The kitchen on its way to the tip

On Wednesday, we looked at the wreck of the house, kept telling ourselves how lovely it would be when it was all done, and realised that the dining suite we bought for £1.47 (yes, really) when we moved it really wouldn’t do any more. I had a quick look on eBay, and found an extending solid oak Ikea table, with six leather(ish) chairs, for £185 starting bid, stuck a bid of exactly that on it, and expected to be trumped. But no – we won it. Which posed a bit of a problem in the short term, because there is NO BLOODY ROOM anywhere in the house right now, and the old dining table has a microwave and pans and a plugin hob and god knows what else on it.

Thankfully, some friends came to the rescue, so on Saturday we took two trips to move the table and chairs in the GermanBarge over to their garage. The stuff is vair nice, although the table is a little bigger than we expected, but it’ll all look lovely. Brian and Lesley fed us firstly with coffee, and then with a lovely impromptu lunch, so thanks once again for your assistance!

We went home and resisted the temptation to just light the fire and slump; instead, we finished emptying the kitchen cupboards, and dismantled them, stowing them all in the aforementioned GermanBarge; the only thing left in there, cupboardwise, is the sink unit, and it’s empty, and we’ve blown the bloody doors off. Martin the KitchenMan will be coming to do his working survey at the end of this week. We had sossidges for supper from fabulous Fields (did a quick detour while in Anlaby collecting dining set), the final run for the old gas cooker, which the plumbering man will be removing when he does the plumbing. I’ve also ordered the dishwasher now.

On Sunday morning, we took up the carpet tiles and lino, and found some really rather nice floorboards underneath. The rest of downstairs has sanded and sealed original floorboards, and we keep wondering whether this would be practical for a kitchen. But probably not. We added these to the boot of the car, and trundled off to the tip; Hull City Council tip staff are fab, and help you with anything bulky, so it was a quick trip. Thence on to Wickes to look at paint (two tester pots bought), and a sausage, egg and mushroom roll for breakfast from the very excellent van in their car park.  Then home via Tesco for cat fud, taking down the old cooker hood (already gone on Freecycle), and then a hot bath each, and a slump.

Up early again this morning, as the gasman cometh, and again tomorrow when he returns with the relevant parts. Still, at least we’ll have reliable hot water then. Won’t we?

Documenting of the kitchen is here on Flickr, should you be interested.

weekend 19/20 Feb 2011

Lazy, really. We sauntered up to Dukes (cafe bar on Princes Ave, just at the top of the road) for a No2ID meeting, which was thinly attended. So much going on – ANPR, NHS spine, DNA database, census – but nothing to hang a campaign around now that the dreaded cards have gone, but we will soldier on. We stayed for a lunch of not very good burger – the fat chips were not in any way crisp, the stilton on my stilton burger was not melted.

Came home, lit the fire, Pete chopped up some wood. I watched Have You Heard About the Morgans, which was really not very good. Lazy.

Sunday was fairly lazy too – cooked a small fry up for breakfast, went to Beverley to Lakeland(s). Bought spring form cake tin, egg spray glaze (whoever heard of such a thing), vanilla extract, food tongs in one Lakeland. Had to be led away gibbering after spotting the most surreal thing in the store (and there are many) – a device for lifting a device for poaching eggs from the pan. Poaching devices come in two colours, poaching device device in just one – what a dilemma for the stylish chef! Picked up three bags of ground almonds for the price of two in Julian Graves.

Had a forage in the fabulous Boyes (as it were), picking up a mechanical ice cream scoop (top tip from Lorraine thingy who had a baking prog on the telly – ideal for putting muffin mix into the pan), a pepper grinder like a cat (*just* horrible enough to be fun), a pack of red hair dye.

Then onto the other Lakeland, where I found a leather jacket of fabulosity. It had a cunning sort of arrangement where an inner middle section/hood zipped in and out, for extra warmth. Pete insisted I had it, and the assistant very kindly unzipped the zip in/out bit to show me how it works, and then we all discovered it had a faulty zip, and it was the only size 14 they had (size! 14!). I prepared to lay on the floor and throw a tantrum, but was thwarted, as they offered to check stock at the warehouse, and found another, which will be delivered to the Beverly store on Wednesday, which is terrific. The swing ticket said £179, so I hope they don’t try to charge me the price on the web site!

Watched The Men Who Stare at Goats, which we thought was hilarious. Cooked moussaka, a slow cooker full of tomato and lentil soup, and some chocolate and banana cakes for the freezer (but we had to sample them).

In other news, the builders are here bricking up the back door and knocking through the hatch, so the kitchen works can begin and chaos will rule.  My single ring induction hob arrived this morning, and it’s cracking; I so wish I’d persuaded Pete that a full induction hob would be as good as gas, but there was no budging him. Builders were here at 7.30, so it feels like going home time now. I’m not looking forward to the next few weeks …

taking your appliances for a ride

winter light and shadows

We are about to embark upon a kitchen refit; the prospect fills me with horror, but the end result will be worth it. Tell me it will.
Another thing that horrifies me is the cost of decent appliances – we have a standalone combi microwave (so it is a little oven and grill, as well as a microwave); we paid about £90 for it last year, but built in ones seem to start at the thick end of £600 and just keep going. I’ve been haunting eBay, and finally snared a Neff combi, plus oven, plus cooker hood, for £350 – result.

So yesterday morning we set off for Northallerton, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors, to collect them. We stopped at a Little Thief for an Olympic Breakfast en route, and it really was olympic – neither of us could quite finish it.

We met the chap (who is renovating a really beautiful house, including “just pushing the back wall out 3 ft” – lord knows what that’ll cost him!), and stowed the stuff in the German Barge; the oven went in the boot, and the microwave and hood fitted on the back seat. We wrapped them tenderly in old sheets, and set off for Staithes, a lovely fishing village on the North Yorkshire coast. It’s very steep, but we trolled up and down the hill and little stepped lanes and had a lovely time, finishing with a cuppa and a piece of really very nice coconut, lime and ginger cake in a local cafe. I had a bash at reproducing it yesterday, and my recipe is here.

After Staithes, we drove home across the moor, stopping in Malton en route. Malton is a nice country town, which apparently closes at 4 on a Saturday, but thankfully the nice butcher was still going. They had a BOGOF on pasties and pies, so we bought a couple of each, and some decent bacon. Came home and ate (home cooked) Indian fud.

We think the Neff appliances enjoyed their day out; we thought it a nice idea to give them a treat, as they will shortly be entombed in cabinetry, and set to work for their living.

Yesterday, I made cake, made soup from last week’s lamb bones and a stack of veg, cleaned the new cooker hood, cooked bagels with scrambly egg and bacon for breakfast, had meat and potato pie with cabbage and broccoli for supper, watched Raising Arizona and the BAFTAs … must have done more, but can’t remember.

And now it’s bloody Monday again.

weekend 15/16 Jan 2011

Richard Thompson, Grand Opera House, York | Jan 2011

How did it get to be 2011, FFS?

A quiet Saturday, involving a trip to Morrisons (rock’n’roll, eh), and The Taking of Pelham 123 later on. This was the Denzil Washington/John Travolta version, and frankly I thought it not a patch on the Robert Shaw one. Still, that is on the Blockbuster list and will no doubt turn up in the fullness of time.

All the rather weary veg from the the fridge were diced up for soup, and cooked off in the slow cooker, a chickie! was roasted, and a pudding was concocted from the last two plums and a huuuuge Bramley, with an almond sponge topping. We also consumed a bottle of red wine between us, and two pots of coffee – this latter was a Mistake, as we both suffered from a severe caffeine overload overnight.

Sunday therefore dawned a tad grooish, but a brunch of bagels, scrambled egg, bacon, black pudding and mushrooms helped a bit; we kept away from the coffee, mind. Watched The Hurt Locker in the afternoon, which I will need to watch again, I think, and then set off for the wilds of York’s Grand Opera House, to see the wondrous Richard Thompson.

It’s something I miss about being in Bristol – we have to travel to see favourite people, and we’ve done Leeds, Sheffield, York, and have tickets for Mak Steel in Lincoln in March. The only music gig we’ve done in Hull was the Ukulele Orchestra early last year. Still, York is an easy run.

We had a swift, excellent pizza in Il Bertorelli (gorgonzola and mushroom for me – nom), then into the theatre; our tickets were about 300′ up at the back of the Grand Circle, and apart from the need for an oxygen mask, the view was terrific. As was the music – a four piece band of drummer, bass, violin, and a multi-instrumental chap on guitar, wind and brass (no, not all at the same time). Very tight combo.

First half was all new album stuff, which we didn’t know, second was some old favourites. Lovely acoustic version of Al Bowley’s in Heaven,  storming rocking version of Tear Stained Letter, with lots of instrumental solos, and just the teeniest hint of community singing, and closing with a stomping I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.

Nice easy run home in 50 minutes, welcomed (if that’s the word) by sulking cats. And now it’s Monday again.

a very English protest

the unruly mob

The word went round via Twitter and e-mail that the BNP were planning a protest rally outside the mosque in Pearson Park on Saturday morning, so Pete and I thought we’d go and join the anti-protest.

We pitched up just after 11, to find quite a few people milling about, none of whom looked remotely BNPish. I know you shouldn’t judge by appearances, but even so … Lots of plod, PCSOs, and four mounted police turned up as the morning went on, and a Community Liaison or Development or Something plod with an impressive, if lopsided, moustachio’d/bearded facial hair arrangement, but still no BNP; they  were due at midday, but were apparently drinking in the Bull on Bev Road. The anti crowd grew, until there must have been a couple of hundred.

It was all tremendously civilised. People (from the mosque, I think) came round with plastic cups and kettles of tea, followed by someone with a jug of milk. There were cup cakes and biscuits. The SWP contingent (I think) tried to whip the crowd into chanting, with little success; it just seemed too aggressive, too tribal. For most people, it was enough to just be there.

At about 1.15, when I really couldn’t feel my toes any more, a few of us decided to repair to the Zachariah Pearson, for a drink and some hot food. We encountered a bedraggled group of BNPers on the corner of Pearson Ave and Beverley Road. They were  shepherded by a few police person, and wearing Santa hats (not the police), which struck me as a tad incongruous, and tried half heartedly (and unsuccessfully) to hand us leaflets.

Just as we got to the pub, I remembered that I’d left a pan of onions on a very low heat, and we thought we’d better go home. So we stopped in at the wonderful Tony’s Textiles for another of their excellent thermal door curtains, picked up some veg in Frutopia, and some potted bulbs and a simple holly wreath from Pollenation. I do like Newland Ave for shopping.

Then home for hot tea, a restorative Bushmills, and sausages, and a bit of a slump for the rest of the day.

Today? I plan, although with no real enthusiasm, to address the Kilamanjaro of ironing, have put a chicken and leek pudding in the slow cooker, will pot the bulbs into bigger containers, try to clear a path through the snow to the back gate so we can get the recycling bin out (with no real belief that they’ll actually come and empty it), and make a plum crumble.

Mounties PCSOs


Pete went to Finland last Monday (that’s 25 October) with his sister, to bury his mother’s ashes and see lawyers and bankers about her estate. He left me with a non-working boiler (see previous post).

Some friends popped in first thing Monday to take a look, but it was beyond their abilities, so I called the people who had fixed (if they did indeed fix) the pressure gauge a few weeks previously. They arrived after Pete had been delivered to the railway station, prodded and poked, tutted a bit, and said I needed a new PCB. They scuttled off to fetch one from their supplier, fitted it and … there was at least power, but no ignition. They prodded and poked some more, but couldn’t fix it, so that was £154 for not much.

In desperation, I phoned British Gas. They do a range of repair services, and I opted for the fixed price at £99, parts and labour, with a further 12 months at £20 for any other repairs (apart from scale related ones, which paints a lovely picture to me). This was the right decision, as in the end we had a new ignition board, new wiring and pressure valve to replace the ones that had melted(!), and it required the services of two BG engineers and two visits to fix – we had a little coven of gas vans outside.

On the Monday night we had a problem with the web servers that I didn’t know how to fix, and Pete was not answering his phone, so I panicked quite a lot. Hat tip and huge thanks to ICUK, our ISP, who sorted it out for me, working late into the night. There were some other bits and bobs that needed Pete’s attention, but they all got sorted thanks to the all-you-can-eat internet from a Finnish telco and his trusty netbook. But by then I was so bloody stressed and exhausted that I took Thursday and Friday off in a virtual sort of way, and just answered e-mails.

On Friday night I drove across the Pennines to Manchester airport to collect him from a flight due to land at 22:20. Which actually landed at 23:00, and there was a huge queue at immigration, so he didn’t get through til 23:20. There is *nothing* at Manchester T3 except a Spar. I had nothing to read, no headphones, and had a fairly miserable wait WITHOUT TEA. So we decided to stop on the way back, but UK services are very poor in the middle of the night, so we just used the loos and carried on. Was very nice to have him home, I can tell you.

The Merc is very enjoyable for that sort of run, but the wind across the Pennings was ferocious that night, and it wallowed a bit.

We had a slumping day on Saturday, and on Sunday went to look at Magnet kitchens (nice, but too expensive for my tastes), then had a walk round Cottingham, and a £6.99 carvery in the West Bulls, which was better than you might think.

And now – life is back to what passes for normal. I hope.

weekend 2/3 October 2010

Amazing – it wasn’t raining on Saturday! So I did some of the ironing mountain, and then cycled into town to return something to Primark, and buy some t-shirts for Pete. 15 minutes in one queue, and 10 in the other. sigh. Then I went to Wilkinsons and bought an ironing board cover and a new peg bag, as ours is disintegrating. It’s a rock and roll lifestyle, and no mistake.

We’re 1.5 miles from town, but I took the long way in, and a longer way back, and my trip was almost 8 miles.  Pete had gone elsewhere for the afternoon, and returned home with a backpack full of fruit and veg, including rhubarb. So I perpetrated a rhubarb crumble, which we had after eating dhal and chapatti, which he constructed. Slumped in front of Strictly and X-Factor after that.

On Sunday, we were planning to cycle over to Beverley to the Apple Fest, which was touted as having a Bird of Prey display amongst other things. As the morning progressed, it was clear that bikes were out unless they were amphibious, and as it progressed further, we realised that the whole plan was out – it just got wetter and wetter out there.

So instead, I finished the ironing (what a lot there was), made the filling and pastry for a chicken pie for supper, turned the heating on (oh the luxury of having working heating!) and decided to watch a movie for the afternoon.

We decided on Shawshank Redemption, which is currently ranked #2 on IMDB, and is just a perfect, perfect film. Before we started it, I dug out my Kaffe Fassett tapestry, which I have had for ages and hardly started. And after that, I dug out my magnifying daylight lamp, as I couldn’t actually see to sew. The tapestry is an aubergine. I did a Fassett cauliflower a few years ago, but I cannot find the damn thing – so annoying.

Then Pete assembled the pie, which we ate with a heap of broccoli, Channel 4’s Art programme (undecided), X-Factor (fixed), Downton Abbey (proving disappointing). I got quite into the tapestry too, which was nice – already wondering what to do next!

Lazy weekend, but there’ll be more of them now the autumn has et in.

weekend 25/26 sept 2010

Saturday dawned much fairer and less windy than Friday had been, so we decided to trundle up to Flamborough for a nice brisk walk along the headland. And brisk it was indeed – so bloody windy that we could barely stand up at times, and certainly far too blustery to risk walking along the cliff edge. So we battled over to Thornwick Bay and back, managing almost three miles, but there really wasn’t much pleasure in it, to be honest.

Because I’m being quite careful with my diet again (details to come in another post at some point), we took a picnic. We had chickpea and tuna salad and a cup of tea when we got to Flamborough, and then some extremely welcome hot homemade lamb and lentil soup when we got back from the walk.

After that we drove up to Filey, but it was full so we didn’t stop. We called in at The Great Satan Tesco on the way home for bulk supplies of cat food, but vowed to cycle over to Morrisons for the rest of the shopping on Sunday. I don’t like Tesco, but we swap the cats’ tins around so they don’t get bored, and it was on the way home.

Sunday dawned … horrid. Damp and cold. In the end we took the car to Morrisons, and stocked up with sensible stuff for me to eat, then came home and slumped. Watched North by North West, which I love, and gave Downton Manor a try – not too bad.

So a bit of a lazy weekend, really – you can tell the weather’s getting seasonal …

weekend 18/19 sept 2010

Skidby Mill

On Saturday, we decided to cycle up to Skidby Mill, a working windmill restored with Lottery funding (what isn’t these days?), with a Museum of Rural Life attached.

It’s not that far – about 6 miles, maybe – but there was a vicious headwind most of the way there, and the last bit is decidedly Up. To my shame, I couldn’t quite manage it, and had to push. And my calves ache like mad!

The museum is beautifully done out, with photographs of and quotations from people who worked the land in the 1930s and 1940s, and some “hands on” exhibits for people to try grinding grain between stones again. I was quite taken aback to be charged £1.75 entrance, as I thought museums were free these days, but it was well worth the money. You can climb right up to the top and see the miller milling (though I didn’t, as I’d never have got down again). You can buy the flour they mill, so we did, and we had a cup of tea and a very nice scone in the tearoom before heading home.

It was glowering a bit when we left, but the rain held off. We came back via Morrisons (so just over 12.5 miles all told)  and bought some bits, which I stowed in my nice new rear bike basket – I’m very  pleased with that, as it means we can go a bit further afield for shopping without the car. Pete is very hardy, and carries heaps of stuff in a rucksack, but my back doesn’t like that. I picked up some greengages for 50p, marked as exotic fruit (really? greengages?), and some white pudding, which I love – you hardly ever see it down south.

In the afternoon, I made a couple of banana and coconut cakes as an experiment, as we had a kilo of desiccated coconut in the larder. I have no idea why we bought such a huge bag, and working through it is going to take some time.

Sunday dawned grey and cold and rainy, and it stayed like that all day, which was irritating as I’d wanted to pop into town. Instead, we had a small but beautifully formed fry up for breakfast (1 rasher, 1 sasuage, 1 egg, 2 slices of white pudding, some fried potatoes). Then we turned a half shoulder of lamb into slow cooked lamb and lentils, and put up with the smell all afternoon. I watched Gosford Park in the afternoon, and the day was, generally, slumpage. First weekend day we’ve spent completely at home since last winter, I think, but was quite nice nonetheless.